On April 26 and 27, thousands of teachers left their jobs for the day to protest in front of the state capital building. Littleton Public Schools was one of many districts forced to cancel classes yesterday as there was not enough faculty available for adequate staffing.
Teachers and other community members of all ages gathered to demand an increase in school funding and teacher salaries. An ocean of protestors, all adorned in red clothing as part of the national “Red for Ed” campaign, stretched from Civic Center park to the doors of the capital.
“With the tax structure the way it is right now, it doesn’t adequately fund [schools],” said LHS social studies teacher James Gordon. Along with many other teachers, Gordon supports a change in the tax structure to allow better funding for education. Specifically, lawmakers should have the option of drawing money for education from income, sales, and corporate taxes.
“I started teaching here in 2000, and when I came they said that since the late 80’s the salaries and the funding for education hasn’t kept pace with inflation,” added Gordon.
Colorado ranks dead last in the nation for teacher salary competitiveness, and 42nd in the nation for per-pupil funding. When it comes to students with special needs, only Oklahoma and Arizona spend spend less than Colorado.
Another teacher at the protest, who wished to remain anonymous, remarked on the frustration with Colorado’s poor job of directing sufficient funds to education.
“I do really care about my students,” she said, adding that the state did not seem to express the same kind of care for children and teenagers.
“I’m here so I can support my teachers and I think it’s important that they’re well funded so we can learn,” said one high school student. Like many other students, his school had cancelled classes for the day.
A number of Denver area Carpenters Union members were also present to show solidarity for teacher unions, who led chants with the protestors to both advocate fair wages for workers and echo the call for a significant funding boost.
“We want to promote support for unions and teachers both, they deserve more,” said one Carpenters Union member. “It’s not just the teachers, [students] deserve more funding too.”